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Pfizer CEO Bourla: Vaccine Announcement Timing Has Nothing to Do with Politics

November 11, 2020

WASHINGTON — Refusing to concede a presidential election he lost, President Donald Trump sought falsely to take full credit for drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective, wrongly asserted the vaccine news was delayed until after Election Day to undermine him and repeated baseless claims of voter fraud.

TRUMP: “As I have long said, @Pfizer and the others would only announce a Vaccine after the Election, because they didn’t have the courage to do it before. Likewise, the @US_FDA should have announced it earlier, not for political purposes, but for saving lives!” — tweet Monday.

“The @US_FDA and the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election, so instead it came out five days later – As I’ve said all along!” — Trump tweeted Monday.

THE FACTS: His claim that Pfizer and the FDA withheld vaccine information until after the election is false. The company itself learned of the interim results on Sunday, and the FDA was not involved in Pfizer’s decision to announce its early results.

Every vaccine study such as the one done on Pfizer’s is overseen by an independent “data and safety monitoring board,” or DSMB. These boards include scientists and statisticians who have no ties to the vaccine makers.

Before a study is complete, only the DSMB has the power to unlock the code of who got a real vaccine and who got a placebo, and to recommend if the shots are working well enough to stop testing early.

Those boards take sneak peeks at predetermined times agreed to by the manufacturer and the FDA. It provided the first interim analysis for Pfizer on Sunday.

John Burkhardt, senior vice president of drug safety research and development at Pfizer, said Monday that the timing of the company’s vaccine announcement was not related in any way to the presidential election and was made as soon as the efficacy data was ready. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNN the timing had nothing to do with politics.

Pfizer and the maker of the other leading U.S. vaccine candidate, Moderna Inc., have been cautioning for weeks that the earliest they could seek regulatory approval for wider use of their shots would be late November.

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